My Gratitude Adjustment: Learning to be Grateful

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gratitudejournal-e1359688676693I just find that the more I wake up and find things to be appreciative about, they do reciprocate somehow,” McConaughey, 44, told ABC News’ Josh Elliott backstage at the Oscars.  “Gratitude is a scientific fact.”-Matthew McConaughey

Trying to practice gratitude in a world where we learn NOT to accept satisfaction is not the easiest thing to do. So it was important for me to challenge myself to focus more on what’s good in my life as opposed to what I constantly strive for more of (money, relationship, and more stuff in general) Introducing….#Gratitude28. For the entire month of February, I kept a gratitude bowl each day sharing at least one thing I was grateful for. gratitudebowlSounds easy in theory but it ain’t.   It started off great when unexpected phone calls led to more lucrative jobs.  Since I freelance now as a singer, work is the prize you covet because you aren’t sure when it will come again. Gratitude was great when my relationship with LOML was on track.  We are long distance and rarely is there not a timing conflict. But, there are moments when our schedule works perfectly and we Skype and completely focus on each other. Then comes the days of reality. Those when I was angry, tired, and lacking in the compassion department. Specifically, the walls crashed in on me when I found out the job I interviewed for in Houston didn’t pan out. To be clear, I’m trying to move closer to my boyfriend. So imagine the sting of getting the obligatory email. The one that says….”it was a difficult decision with so many suitable candidates but we decided to go with someone else.” Rejected. Sucks. No happiness anywhere. After too many  moments of silence I admitted, I’m sad and the tears flowed.  Gratitude says to look for the good even in the bad circumstances. Gratitude says to trust the process that’s teaching you patience and to persevere. That night, I wrote out thanks on a pink slip of paper  ” I am grateful for the opportunity to interview.” Man, that hurt but as my the pen in my hand shook, I realized other companies I applied with didn’t even call to speak to me. The greater lesson? Being thankful helped me to shift my thinking to focusing on the possibilities. It wasn’t  that I’m not qualified, it was the timing. I struggled a lot  to write thanks some days because my vision was too clouded with disappointments. But forcing myself to focus on what I did have, from health to a calm, quiet place to call home took away my superficial “I must have this to be happy mantra.”  I thanked God for where I was, trusting his process for me, and also remembered that this wasn’t the only opportunity I would ever have again. That’s an attitude adjustment.

#Gratitude28  disciplined my scatterbrained focus. I’m great at starting projects only to get sidetracked and halfway complete them. I stuck to this not only because it was my idea but I saw my attitude changing in my  moments of disappointment. The more I focus on the possibilities, the more they opened up. I’m a girl who used to dwell in her pain like she was taking a bath. I’m working my way out of that because there’s too little time to miss out on what’s really for you. Each time I  wrote down a blessing, they stuck with me more. Each time I gave thanks, another opportunity appeared. I didn’t get the job in Houston, but got three more  singing in Florida soon after.  Gratitude reciprocates itself. images#Gratitude28 is over but I still have my bowl and write out moments of thanks. The biggest change I see is in my attitude. I notice the positive around my and in my friends   and take less for granted. Nothings perfect, life isn’t magically wonderful, but I’m focused on the possibility and belief it will work out exactly how God has planned it. 

I Thessalonians 5:18 Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. Notice it didn’t say, only when things are great but in every situation. Practicing gratitude will definitely change your attitude.


Why Birthdays are Important: Reflections

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My brother and I-birthday time.

My brother and I-birthday time.

Birthdays. The day you were born and how you celebrate it says so much about you. I can remember pics of my mother’s carefully orchestrated parties with the clown, the cake, and of course my classmates and neighbors from down the street. (see sibling pic on the left)

Each year, you start trying to top yourself  with a bigger cake, a bigger bash depending on what milestone it is. It honestly use to stress me out when I wrongly compared myself to others and would measure life by babies, marriage, and even cars that meant they made it.  I’d arrange small gatherings just to celebrate but a nagging bothered me: have you done enough for your life at your age?

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With age and a little wisdom, you start reflecting on what life really means to you and what’s important.  I understand now what it means when God says you are enough. (Stop comparing yourself to others) When He said,(Jeremiah 1:5) I knew you before I formed you in the your mother’s womb.( I made you for a specific, worthy purpose.) And finally, I set you apart. (Why would you spend so much of life trying to fit in when you are fabulous the way I made you?)  Lots of friends who were in my circle in my 20′s are nowhere to be found. Not a bad thing. We grow and all move in different directions. Life has a way to weeding out those who won’t hold your hand when you heart hurts.  But more importantly, it also draws people to you who will walk and laugh with you even when things aren’t funny. My circle is small but consistent. My faith in God is mine and no longer my mother’s. I’ve learned to celebrate me even when no one else is looking. I give love because it feels good, not because I’m empty and don’t love myself.  I trashed the theory that you’ve made it when you have the baby, husband, and the picket fence surrounding the house. In short, I’m living life by my own rules. And while absolutely nothing is wrong with a picket fence, it has nothing to do with my legacy I leave on earth. These are the lessons I’ve learned as I turn forty-one.  I’m fully confident that’s the best way to live.53ce0b661af534e61bacf01f443ee9fe (2)


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Lessons From My Worst Audition-Listen To Your Gut

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532b62ac0f53dfe1cea847720e607b21Auditioning is a fine art that leaves performers smiling or wanting to schedule an appointment with their therapist for a self-esteem chat. You walk in the room dressed for the role, knowing you need to look the part even when signing in to drop off your resume. One awkward move can end your chances and leave you wondering why didn’t get the part. But sometimes, you know exactly why you didn’t get an offer and you know it as it happens.  This happened at my worst audition. I signed up for a singing audition ignoring my gut response to stay home and chill.   My last attempt with this company wasn’t good as I ended up staying until 2 am in the morning through 3 audition cuts only to hear nothing afterwards. ( I didn’t get the job)  I was more pissed at myself  because I didn’t stick to my standards and leave when too much time passed. I couldn’t shake that this was a place that would value my time.   Of course, I  vowed never to go back.

Maybe I felt like this because I normally apply for union gigs.  I gave it the benefit of the doubt because others were used to the process and said, “That’s just how it is but it’s great once you get in.”  Lesson learned… or so I thought. Two years later, I went back this time believing things changed. Same old thing again.  Appointment times meant nothing, and as time went on, I zoned out wondering what I was going to eat and what was on tv.  My skin was burning and I thought this crap is happening again. (Why didn’t I leave then?) I was already in the middle of rehearsals for another show, working other gigs, and it was my freakin’ day off!!  It gets worse. After showing up on time, making one callback, and then waiting an hour for the callback,  I get front and center in the midst of all my peers who I regularly compete against and squawked. I sounded like a chicken trying to run for her life. I admit I hate group auditions and when I realized we were going to go one by one, my anxiety level  hit 100.  After 6 bars of singing, my insides screamed “Oh, Hell No!!” and I stopped. WHO STOPS SINGING IN AN AUDITION? I did.  The director nodded and smiled as I politely said “I can’t do this, thank you.”  I grabbed my things, and left.

Twenty year old me would have cried and been embarrassed to show her face. Forty year old Lorri was happy that she wasn’t staying in situations that weren’t worth her time.  Embarrassed. Angry. Frustrated. With so many emotions running in my head, I slammed the door and sped off trying to find something to eat so I could clear my head. Scarfing down my  favorite Five Guys burger, I  realized that I wasn’t listening to my gut. We all do it from time to time choosing opportunities out of fear instead of purpose. I’ve intentionally worked on this part of my decision-making to these snafus.  Thankfully, I’m could see a couple of lessons that will stay with me this time.

  • Once a person shows you who they are, believe it. This quote is everywhere but we  forget to remember it when it matters most.  I had the same experience with the same company. Why?  Because I chose to ignore my experience. So, it happened again. Auditions (like any job interview) are  a mutual meeting where we determine whether we are a good fit. I failed to remember past experience with the company and it cost me. As performers we have a short period of time to make an impression. The same goes for the casting directors and companies we choose to work with.
  • People will always talk about  you when you do well, and even more so when you fail. In the entertainment biz, people know you or about you because you did a great job. But, you WILL  also get ragged on when you stink. After walking out of my  audition, my “experience” got back to me in the form of my coworker attempting to gossip with me about me??? HA.  Her words—”my friend” told me you “did something” at an audition. Quiet for a moment, I thought… she knows. I asked, “Was he there, I didn’t see him?” “Oh, no he wasn’t.” I was honest and said…”yup, I left.” He wasn’t there and he didn’t have but it didn’t matter.  But he heard about it. News travels fast good or bad so be prepared for people to revel in your glory as well as your mishaps.
  • One poor audition/interview is not the overall reflection of your worth. Thank GOD I’m grown enough to know that one audition was not the totality of my ability as a performer. Too many times we assume one failed attempt means we are a failure. NO.  I didn’t succeed in that moment  but by no means does it reflect on my worth or ability to perform. I had my moment of disappointment, but had to laugh at the fact that I stopped the process and said enough was enough. Sometimes, it’s up to you to end the madness.
  • Believe in your ability to choose what’s best for you. On my way home from the audition, I kept thinking, “my friend said this was the perfect role for me.” But no one knows me, my ability, and my preferences like I do. If I had taken the time to look at my past experiences, what I wanted, and what was most important to me, I  wouldn’t have signed up again. It’s okay to take in opinions from friends, but ultimately we know what’s best for ourselves. Trust your gut, the Holy Spirit, in showing you what’s best for you.

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I can laugh at my experience now even though it frustrated me then. The lessons I learned will stay with me this time because if nothing else, I know when to listen to my gut and just walk away.

If you’ve had a similar experience or want to share your thoughts, feel free to leave a comment. As always, if you want to share in twitter or Facebook, feel free! Thanks for reading. :)

L


2014: Time to Clean House

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Happy New Year!! Of course, this is the time people are off  at the gym to lose weight, making appointments to meet with financial planners, and plotting out the best way to make THIS year be the year that all of their desires come to pass. I’m spending the first week of January catching up from the busyness of 2013 which ended with me working well into the New Year with little time to plan for what exactly I wanted to take place this year. Thank God for down time this week because I’ve been able to quickly look at what goals passed the bar  in 2013  (nixing credit card debt) (dating)(increasing singing opportunities) and note which ones I didn’t get cracking on (writing my book)(eliminating ALL debt). As I look back, there were hindrances (me namely) that kept me from fully walking out everything I wanted to do. So this week, I’ve taken inventory of what things need to go so I can accomplish ALL of my goals.

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Free Time is not Play Time: A quick inventory of time spent, a lot was given freely to others without reciprocal investment. Yes, I gave too much of my time dealing watching other people live on social media and left too little time managing my life in a way that would produce results. Rosetta Thurman, the amazing CEO of Happy Black Woman, said she rarely watches TV because she has too much work to do. I cringed when she spoke the words because  I knew I needed to give up RHOA, the Sing-OFF, The Voice, and countless other shows that drained my time. Ditto for trolling social media Twitter and  Instagram pages I when didn’t feel like writing. But the pay off was nothing. I didn’t get my blogs done and not a line written in any book. So this year, there will be less tv, social media and more personal time devoted to the goals that only I can accomplish.

Baggage is Heavy especially when you constantly carry others for free.  I preface by saying I’m not perfect and I’ve had my time leaning on family and friends when I was in the midst of a crisis. In the past year, I learned the value of healthy relationships. So if the only time you call is Christmas, New Years, or Easter, you’ve become an acquaintance. Inboxing me on Facebook to say “I think of you often” but never picking up the phone to call me makes ME an acquaintance. If I only hear from you when things are bad, or you have nothing else to do, our priority for relationships have changed. And while it’s okay that we aren’t close, I choose not to give away the privilege of my time so freely. We’ve all done and wondered how we end up so drained from relationships that don’t ever fill  us back up. Here’s to letting go of dead friendships, losing the expectation that things can be better unless both parties choose to prove otherwise. And let me not start on romantic relationships where the person pops in and out of our lives just to make sure we are still an option. I’ve come too far and discovered too much worth and value to hang like an option. You’re so valuable that it’s time for you to be the ONLY option. So let them go. As you do so, watch the person who possesses the ability to care about you and well-being come in and lighten the load.

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Truly Understand the Value of Putting Yourself First: As women, we get caught up in trying to please everyone sometimes leaving our needs for last. How can we get ahead or even get what we want if we continue to put ourselves second?  Can’t lose weight because you keep running with friends who love eating out and just wanna talk but it somehow involves food?  Trying to work on you but keep hanging around folk who drain you with their negativity? Fearful of change and keep doing the same thing over and over? I can count on my hand a number of instances which I shot myself in the foot because I was too afraid to try, too concerned about what would happen if I wasn’t present for a task or a job. I will no longer pretend like my value is less than others just to appease friends, employers or family. Just like employers can choose who they want to employ, I can choose who I want to work for and what terms of agreement will take place. Saying yes to a job but never negotiating for your needs says ” I’m just happy to be here.” Really!! You have a skill to offer so it’s time to leverage your talents and ask for what you are worth.  

Whatever the goal this year, the way you use time will have everything to do with if you accomplished your goals. I’m holding myself accountable to how I spend my time, who I spend it with, and how I position myself this year. I’ll keep you posted on the balance of really getting what I’m worth and not giving my time away for free.

How will you manage your time this year differently to stay disciplined and focused on your goals? Feel free to share with others as we can all learn from each other.

 

 

 

 



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Bikram Yoga: Black Girls Can Do it Too!

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yoga  Yoga was never my first choice of exercise. I preferred cardio, high impact weight driven classes. But after two car accidents and being told by the doctor to back off the weights, I needed a new exercise regimen. And face it, when you hit 40, your metabolism starts to slow down. One candy bar can suddenly add 2 pounds to your face. Where did that fat come from? Instead of sulking, I tried a mix of Pilates and yoga classes that both stretch and strengthen and tone. Now I choose Bikram Yoga as my choice of exercise because of the heat on my muscles, the energy I get from going through the poses, and instant flexibility.

My friend and I referred to each other as Black Yoga Buddies because frequently, our sister friends wouldn’t even think of trying poses that twist your body in pretzel shapes with cute names like downward dog and tree poses. Don’t mention Bikram because my Black girlfriends don’t want to sweat out their hair. (That’s part of why I went natural because I needed to stay healthy as opposed to cute with a hairdo but stiff and pudgy in my stomach.) Things are changing though as I’ve seen at least three to four black women in each of my classes. If you don’t know much about Bikram, don’t worry, I’ll share the short version below.

Bikram Basics  Bikram uses 26 poses and 2 breathing exercises in a 90 minute session. Each pose focuses on breathing, stimulating the organs, glands, and nerves and helping to move fresh oxygen through the body. The instructors want you to focus on the pose, focus on the breathing, and to push past your limit of what you think you can do. The 26 poses of Bikram It ain’t easy, and I almost passed out the first couple of classes from the heat. Now, I love Bikram because it forces me to concentrate on controlling what’s going on inside my body and shutting out the busyness my mind is famous for.

Who can do Bikram?  Bikram works with any body type. My class consists of  women and men who are heavy, skinny, built, and big-boned all fighting through each pose. Seeing the difference in body types challenged how I look at my body as I normally cover up my problem areas like my stomach and butt. In this class, the problem areas are exposed because the body is looked at as a muscle that works regardless of what problems it has. Don’t think cuz you’re skinny you can immediately master Bikram. I’ve stood next to obese men who have more control over their stomach muscles than I ever will. Having trouble loving your body? Take a Bikram class. You’ll quickly begin to marvel at what you can do with your legs, your arms, and your ability to balance on one foot.

Benefits of Bikram: Bikram benefits everyone regardless of what health issues you have. I started yoga for back pain and early arthritis. After the first class, I noticed  a difference in flexibility and less back discomfort.  Besides, who wants to take a pill for back pain or bad knees? Not me. The standing poses stretch and strengthen the abdominal muscles and lower extremities.  The floor poses, the hardest for me because I have a weak core, include the Half-Tortoise, Camel and Rabbit. Performing these poses stretch and open your spine and neck. This leads to improved functioning of the central nervous, digestive and reproduction systems, while relieving lower back pain, constipation and scoliosis. Again, these are all great benefits of Bikram depending on what your physical needs are.

Heat Warning: Now to the possible turnoff: the heated room. Most Bikram classes function at least 104 degrees with 35 percent humidity. In other words, you will sweat ridiculously. In your hair, your arms, your clothes. mindovermadness2BUT, the benefit is it removes toxins from your body and improves your immune and circulation systems. I wasn’t happy that my entire body felt like I jumped into a lake but realized I was exercising. When you exercise you will sweat. It was also a wakeup call for me to look at what I  put in my body from how much water I drank to how if I had any protein or food with substance.  I drink more water now as a result. And about the hair ladies…. I know we don’t like to sweat after getting our hair done but we are more than our outer appearance. At some point, we may have to sacrifice to gain control of our health.  I’m natural but see a lot of women with perms in class with headwraps on. So Bikram can be done permed hair or not. It is hot, you will sweat, but your health and fitness is worth it right? AND  you sweat doing cardio right? :)

I advocate for every Black Girl to try Bikram at least once for the challenge of learning to control your breathing, experiencing a new form of exercise, and using heat to reduce your body’s natural aches and pains. The benefits outweigh the heat and frizzy hair and gives everyone a sense of accomplishment. Ninety minutes of 26 poses while quietly concentrating? At the very minimum, you’ll learn how to block out distractions and focus on being present while working on your health.

If you try a  Bikram class, let me know your thoughts and share your experience. Thanks for reading!